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The Clinton Presidency: Lowest Crime Rates in a Generation

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The Clinton Presidency:
Lowest Crime Rates in a Generation


America’s families and communities faced serious crime problems in 1992. More violent crimes were reported in 1992 than ever before, with nearly two million murders, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults occurring in the United States. Gun crime had skyrocketed to the highest point in 20 years with more than half a million total gun crimes reported. Parents fought a daily battle to keep their children away from drugs and gangs, as more young people than ever were involved in violent crimes. In 1992 alone, more than 850,000 children were victims of violent crime, and guns killed 5,379 children — an average of nearly fifteen every day. Communities struggled to fight crime, but the federal response remained bogged down in partisan differences.

President Clinton and Vice President Gore enacted policies that imposed tougher penalties and enforcement along with smart crime prevention measures, funded more than 100,000 new police officers on America’s streets, provided the leadership to pass common sense gun safety legislation including the Brady Bill and assault weapons ban, and implemented a comprehensive anti-drug strategy.

Support for Proven Local Solutions: 100,000 Community Police Officers

THEN: Communities struggled to fight rising crime rates.
Between 1989 and 1992, violent crime rates increased by 13 percent. In 1992, there were nearly two million murders, rapes and aggravated assaults reported. Cities including Houston, Boston and New York brought down crime rates with community policing, but most communities lacked the resources to hire and redeploy enough police officers to fight and prevent crime.
NOW: 100,000 new community police funded along with record investments in local law enforcement.
President Clinton fought for and signed a plan to help communities across the country move to community policing by funding the hiring and redeployment of 100,000 new police officers over five years. The Clinton-Gore Administration’s COPS initiative, passed as part of the 1994 Crime Bill, has provided more than 11,000 law enforcement agencies funding to hire or redeploy more than 100,000 police officers. In 2000, President Clinton won over $1 billion to help communities take the next step and hire up to 50,000 more police officers by FY 2005. The federal government has also made record investments helping local authorities fight crime — increasing funding for state and local law enforcement by more than 300 percent since 1993. Overall crime rates has dropped every year under President Clinton and Vice President Gore, the longest continuous drop on record and crime is now at a 26-year low.

Community Policing Initiative is Improving America’s Neighborhoods

"By working in the same neighborhoods day-in, day-out, we developed real ties to the community. We took real steps to fix problems in neighborhoods. We formed partnerships. We problem solved. We prevented crime... COPS money makes this possible... Thank you, Mr. President, for making it possible to fulfill my dream. Thank you for making it possible to return our police to their communities. Thank you for being the first president to take the police truly seriously, to listen to us, and to give us the tools we need to keep our people safe."
Corporal Irma Rivera, Arlington County Police Department, Arlington, Virginia. Corporal Rivera has been with the Arlington County Police Department since April 1992. Due to a COPS grant, she was able to join the Community Based/Problem-Oriented Policing Section, which worked to rid Arlington neighborhoods of gang and drug-related crime.


Common-Sense Gun Safety Laws: the Brady Act and the Assault Weapons Ban

THEN: Gun violence reaches record levels.
Gun violence reached its highest point in 20 years; a record 565,000 Americans were victims of gun crime in 1992. Murders by juveniles increased by 65 percent between 1987 and 1993, reaching the highest level ever in 1993. In 1992, an average of nearly 15 children every day were killed by firearms through violence, accidents or suicides.
NOW: Common sense gun safety laws bring down gun crime by 40 percent.
President Clinton fought the gun lobby and won common sense gun safety laws including the Brady Bill and the Assault Weapons Ban. Under the Clinton-Gore Administration, overall gun crime has declined 40 percent, and firearms related homicides committed by juveniles have dropped by nearly 50 percent. There were 227,000 fewer gun crimes in 1999 than 1992, and 1,246 fewer children were killed by guns than in 1992.
  • Background checks performed under the Brady Law have prevented more than 611,000 felons, fugitives and domestic abusers from buying a gun.
  • The Assault Weapons Ban, passed as part of the 1994 Crime Bill, banned the manufacture, sale and importation of 19 of the deadliest assault weapons.
  • The Clinton-Gore Administration has worked with state and local governments to increase prosecution of gun crime. Since 1992, the number of federal firearms cases has increased 16 percent, and as a result of this Administration’s unprecedented partnership with states and localities, overall gun prosecutions - federal, state, and local combined — are up 22 percent. In addition, federal gun offenders are serving sentences that are about two years longer than in 1992 and the number of serious gun offenders sent to federal prison for more than five years is up more than 41 percent.
  • Clinton-Gore Administration U.S. Attorneys in Richmond (Project Exile) and Boston (Operation Ceasefire) were instrumental in innovative efforts to crack down on armed drug traffickers, violent criminals, gang members and violent youth which has helped to reduce crime in these cities. The Clinton-Gore Administration has also implemented a comprehensive crime gun tracing initiative — the Youth Crime Gun Interdiction Initiative — in 38 cities to trace crime guns and identify and arrest illegal gun traffickers.
  • Finally, to combat violence in schools, the Clinton-Gore Administration enacted the Gun Free Schools Act, which requires schools to adopt zero-tolerance policies toward guns in schools and expel students bringing firearms to school. Over the 1996-98 school years, nearly 10,000 students were expelled from public schools for bringing a firearm to school.

Common-Sense Gun Safety Laws Are Making America Safer

"President Clinton, you and your administration have helped make this country safer through your support for the Brady law and the 1994 crime bill and your persistence in pursuing common-sense laws and strategies to reduce gun violence."
James Brady, February 11, 2000. James S. Brady was shot along with President Reagan and two law enforcement officers in an assassination attempt in 1981. Although seriously wounded by the gunshot wound to the head, Mr. Brady has actively lobbied for stronger gun laws.


"If my son Scott had not been shot by a classmate with a grudge and an assault weapon over ten years ago, I might likely be a grandmom today... With the leadership and perseverance of President Clinton, we won the fight to pass the Assault Weapons Ban, and have taken an important step toward preventing countless other families from suffering the way my family has."
Bryl Phillips-Taylor. Bryl Phillips-Taylor lost her son, Scott, the summer before he was scheduled to enroll in college at Virginia Tech in 1989. Scott was killed by a fellow student who held a grudge against him after luring him into the woods and shooting him six times with an AK-47 assault rifle that he had taken from an unlocked gun storage shed. Since then, Bryl has worked tirelessly to promote the passage of common sense gun laws, including the successful passage of the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban.


Strong Gun Enforcement Reduces Violent Crime

"Five short years ago, Richmond was known nationwide for our high crime and murder rates. Today, we’ve received national attention not for the problem, but for the solution. We’ve attacked crime from all fronts, and one of the most successful avenues has been through strong gun enforcement. President Clinton shares my philosophy that America needs to send a strong message to gun criminals that breaking gun laws will not be tolerated. That’s why we worked with the Clinton Administration to create the nation’s first "Project Exile" program, a partnership at the federal and local levels that has guaranteed that anyone caught with an illegal gun serves five years in federal prison. Project Exile is now being replicated across America by other communities, and gun prosecutions are up. Project Exile’s success in getting tough on gun criminals is due in no small measure to our partnership and President Clinton’s leadership in the fight to reduce crime and gun violence."
Colonel Jerry Oliver, Chief of Police, Richmond, Virginia. Colonel Oliver is nationally recognized for his success in helping to dramatically reduce crime in Richmond through innovative new partnerships and programs, such as "Project Exile." Created through a partnership with the Clinton Administration, U.S. Attorney Helen Fahey, Colonel Oliver and community leaders, "Project Exile" has helped take gun criminals off of the streets of Richmond by ensuring that felons caught illegally carrying firearms serve a minimum five year sentence in federal prison.


Tough and Smart Crime Fighting Policies: The 1994 Crime Bill

THEN: Political division blocks progress in fighting crime
While crime increased during the 1980s and early 1990s, Washington bickered over false choices between punishment and prevention. This political division blocked passage of a federal crime bill for six years. When President Clinton took office, the violent crime rate had skyrocketed to the highest point in 20 years, juvenile violence reached record levels, and gang and drug violence were epidemic in many communities.
NOW: Tough and smart crime-fighting policies enacted
President Clinton launched a new approach to crime fighting that emphasized both tough anti-crime measures like increased prosecution, more prisons and stiffer penalties, as well as smart prevention measures including expanding community policing, common sense gun safety laws, increased drug treatment, and after-school programs. The 1994 Crime Bill was a historic turning point in federal anti-crime efforts, enacting the COPS program and banning the importation of 19 of the most dangerous assault weapons. The Crime Bill also contained:
  • Stiffer criminal penalties including a federal ‘three-strikes-and-you’re out’ law and expansion of the death penalty for killing a law enforcement officers and incentives for states to adopt truth-in-sentencing for violent offenders.
  • Drug courts to provide increased judicial supervision and drug treatment for non-violent offenders and boot camps for first-time young offenders.
  • Increased funding for prison construction, and anti-drug and gang programs.
  • A new law making it illegal for juveniles to own handguns.
  • Registration of sexually violent offenders with state officials upon release from prison.
  • The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which quadrupled funding for battered women’s shelters, increased resources to prosecute domestic violence offenders, and established a nationwide 24-hour Domestic Violence Hotline.

Local Partnerships are Reducing Crime in Boston

"The Clinton Administration has been a key partner in all of our efforts, whether it's been through major grants, consistent public support for our collaborative efforts or deploying personnel from federal agencies, such as BATF, DEA, FBI, INS and the US Attorney, to work on task forces with us. We are very grateful for this partnership."
Boston Police Commissioner Paul F. Evans, November 16, 2000. In the early 1990’s, Boston faced a surge in homicides, gang-related crime, and youth violence. To address their crime problems, the Boston Police Department forged working relationships with Mayor Thomas Menino; local probation officers, parole officers and prosecutors; local, state and federal agencies; and each of Boston's neighborhoods. As a result, Boston has reached its lowest violent crime rate since 1971, the number of homicides is at its lowest point since 1961 and every year since 1993, the number of juveniles killed by guns has decreased.


Violence Against Women Act Funding Supports
Domestic Violence Shelters and Services

"VAWA money that Esperanza has received in the past has assisted our program with victims in the court system. In fact, with VAWA funding, we were able to hire a court advocate who helps women obtain protection orders, helps them with security, and provides translation services. I am proud to say that our court advocate has helped about 1,500 women to date... President Clinton is a very strong advocate who cares and supports women everywhere. He is a person to be there to care when caring makes the difference between despair and hope."
Connie R. Trujillo, Santa Fe, New Mexico. Connie Trujillo is a domestic violence survivor and the Executive Director of Esperanza, Shelter for Battered Families, one of the oldest battered women’s shelters in the country. With Violence Against Women Act funding, Esperanza has been able to hire a court-based advocate to assist victims in obtaining orders of protection and in safety planning, and in one year, this advocate has assisted about 1,500 victims in court.


Successful Drug Control Strategy: Prevention, Treatment and Enforcement

THEN: Ineffective drug control strategy leaves drugs flowing and addicts untreated
The nation suffered from an unbalanced and ineffective drug control strategy that left more than a million addicted individuals untreated, and failed to cut the supply of drugs to America’s communities. In 1992, there were 1,302 drug-related murders, approximately 555 tons of cocaine flooded the streets, and 62 percent of those who needed drug treatment went untreated.
NOW: Balanced, effective anti-drug strategy
President Clinton placed a new emphasis on a balanced anti-drug strategy. He elevated the Drug Czar to a cabinet-level post, replaced political appointees with professionals and appointed four-star General Barry McCaffrey as director of the office — the first person with a drug interdiction background to hold the post. Funding for anti-drug efforts has increased by more than 50 percent — from $12.2 billion in 1993 to $18.5 billion in 2000.
  • Prevention funding has increased by one-third, including a successful Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, the largest targeted media effort ever to educate youth about the dangers of drug use.
  • Treatment funding is up 33 percent, and the treatment gap has closed by five percent. To break the cycle of drugs and crime, President Clinton funded Drug Courts to provide treatment for non-violent offenders and helped to expand the number of Drug Courts from a dozen in 1994 to more than 400 in October 1999. The number of federal inmates receiving substance abuse treatment rose from 1,135 in 1992 to 10,816 in 1999, and the Administration has encouraged states to adopt comprehensive drug testing and intervention for prisoners and parolees.
  • President Clinton has also stepped up interdiction and enforcement efforts. The Administration has increased the number of FBI, DEA, and Border Patrol Agents and is working with allies to stop international cultivation and trafficking. Seizures of cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamine reached record levels in 1999. Drug-related arrests and convictions also increased, with arrests up 46 percent and federal convictions rising by more than 20 percent.

Drug Courts Are Reducing Crime and Drug Abuse

"President Clinton's historic expansion of drug courts across our nation has played a vital role in our success in reducing crime and drug abuse in our communities. Drug Courts across the United States are resulting in increased sobriety and reduced criminality among drug using offenders. By demanding accountability, but also providing rehabilitative services to this drug using population, Drug Courts are creating safer and healthier communities, while reducing the numbers of offenders in custody and the financial costs to our communities."
Judge Jeffrey S. Tauber, President of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals and Director of the National Drug Court Institute. Judge Tauber initiated and presided over the design and implementation of the Oakland Drug Court Program, one of the first in the nation, and was also the first chair of the California Association of Drug Court Professionals.


Progress For America’s Families and Communities in the Fight Against Crime

  • Crime Rate Drops Every Year: The overall crime rate has dropped for 8 years in a row — the longest continuous drop on record — and is now at a 26 year low.
  • Violent Crime Down Every Year: The violent crime rate is at its lowest level in over two decades and is 30 percent lower than it was in 1992. In 1999, the homicide rate dropped to its lowest point since 1966. The murder rate has dropped more than 38 percent since 1992.
  • Gun Crime Rate Drops Dramatically: Since 1993, the gun-related crime rate has declined by more than 40 percent. The number of juvenile gun offenders peaked in 1993, and has dropped 57 percent since then.
  • School Crime Rate Down: The school crime rate — the number of thefts or violent crimes committed at schools — has decreased from 155 per 1,000 students in 1993 to 101 per 1,000 students in 1998. That’s a drop of nearly 35 percent.
  • Domestic Violence Declines: The number of women experiencing violence at the hands of an intimate partner declined 21 percent from 1993 to 1998.
  • Teen Drug Use Drops: Teen drug use has turned the corner, dropping for the third year in a row. Youth marijuana use has dropped over 25 percent.
  • Record Levels of Federal Drug Seizures: Federal drug seizures have increased to record high levels since 1993, including the highest level of federal cocaine seizures ever — a 10 percent increase over 1992 levels. In 1999, federal agents seized more than three times the amount of marijuana than was seized in 1992.
  • Cocaine Supply Decreases: Coca leaf eradication in Bolivia, Colombia and Peru increased by more than five times between 1992 and 1998. The amount of cocaine available for consumption in the United States has dropped by more than 30 percent since 1992.
  • Drug-Related Murders Cut in Half: The drug related murder rate has been cut almost in half since 1992. Drug related murders are now at their lowest level in over a decade.

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